No specialist heart centre for Suffolk

HEALTH chiefs have today pledged to push ahead with a scheme to create specialist heart attack centres in Essex, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, but not Suffolk.

HEALTH chiefs have today pledged to push ahead with a scheme to create specialist heart attack centres in Essex, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, but not Suffolk.

The East of England Specialised Commissioning Group (SCG) decided not to place a life-saving primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PPCI) centre in Suffolk, against the wishes of Ipswich Hospital, patient groups, GPs and politicians.

The hospital said the move would leave patients in east and south Suffolk disadvantaged, as to make the most of the new technology the procedure needs to be carried out within 120 minutes, and it would take Suffolk residents longer to reach a centre than most other people in the East of England.

Andrew Reed, chief executive of Ipswich Hospital said at a meeting: “We expressed our reservations that having only three PPCI centres for the East of England could disadvantage residents of Suffolk because of the distances that many patients will have to travel.”

At its latest board meeting last month the SCG acknowledged the concerns and said it would look again at retaining Ipswich Hospital's current service, pre-hospital thrombolysis, which is the next best level of care for those who can not get to a PPCI centre in time.

However Simon Griffith, associate director of specialised services at the SCG, said that idea had now been rejected and no changes to the original plans, which were criticised by Ipswich Hospital, had been made.

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He added: “I believe we have addressed their concerns. The advice we have received shows that the PPCI centres are a safe service and the outcomes for patients will be consistently better.

“I think it is good news.”

He said the controversial model would be reviewed within two years, with the option of setting up a 9 to 5 centre instead of a 24/7 one in the future a possibility in Suffolk.

He said the PPCI service would roll out to Suffolk on June 1, following its implementation in Norfolk on Monday.

Are you upset that the life-saving centre will not come to Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.